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Hartselle linebacker Craig Orr (45) puts a hit on Russellville's Michael Abernathy (5)  during first half action of Russellville's 14-0 win in Hartselle on Friday night.
Daily photo by Brennen Smith
Hartselle linebacker Craig Orr (45) puts a hit on Russellville's Michael Abernathy (5) during first half action of Russellville's 14-0 win in Hartselle on Friday night.

Russellville blanks Hartselle
Tigers fall to 0-3 first time under Godsey

By Brooke Milam
bmilam@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

HARTSELLE — Hartselle High coach Bob Godsey takes pride in the tough schedule that his Tigers play — battling through Class 5A, Region 8, while seeking out top-notch out-of-region opponents year after year.

But there's a downside to a loaded schedule, and the Tigers are seeing that now.

After a 14-0 loss to third-ranked Russellville on Friday night at J.P. Cain Stadium, the Tigers are still looking for their first win of the season.

The loss drops Hartselle to 0-3, while Russellville improved its record to 3-0.

"Nobody wants to be where we are right now, but we are here," Godsey said. "We'll get it together. These guys will bounce back."

Godsey said this is new ground for the Tigers, who were a state quarterfinal team a year ago and have not been 0-3 in his four previous years with the program.

Through three quarters, the only points were a pair of field goals by Russellville's Josh Montgomery.

Montgomery made good on a 28-yard field goal with 3:55 to play in the first quarter and was true again on a 39-yarder 3:49 before halftime for a 6-0 Russellville lead.

"I thought we controlled the first half, we just didn't have many points to show for it," first-year Russellville coach Doug Goodwin said.

Godsey said the Tigers' "best defensive effort of the year" is what kept his team in the game until tough luck on offense struck.

"We were one score away from being in the lead," Godsey said. "We were outstanding on defense."

Hartselle's best chance to score came when the Tigers marched down the field with a 78-yard drive that had them at first-and-goal on the 2, only to see it slip away.

After a run by junior Marquez Jones put the ball inside the 1, junior quarterback Luke Bole dealt with a botched snap and was caught in the backfield.

Two incomplete passes later, the Tigers turned the ball over to Russellville on downs with no points.

"Two weeks in a row, we get down there and it's disaster," Godsey said.

Both teams were focused on stopping the run, and for the most part both were successful. No running backs scored touchdowns in the contest.

Michael Abernathy, Russellville's star 6-foot-0, 227-pound tailback, gained 112 yards and the bulk of the Golden Tigers' first downs but scored no touchdowns.

Russellville's lone touchdown was on a 6-yard quarterback keeper by Cory Trapp early in the fourth quarter, and Abernathy ran for the 2-point conversion.

Trapp's score completed a short-field 23-yard drive after Russellville's Kory Suggs blocked a Hartselle punt attempt.

"Coming in that's what we were focused on — stopping the run," Goodwin said.

The Golden Tigers stifled Hartselle's usually effective running duo of Jones and senior Montrell Murphy, who between them rushed for 59 yards.

Looking for options, Bole found senior Tony Weaver several times late in the second half, including a 68-yard connection and an 11-yard pass that had Hartselle on the 2-yard line midway through the fourth quarter.

"Everybody all year is going to be focused on the run against us and were going to have to be able to use our passing game," Godsey said. "Catching and throwing — and we're making strides in that area."

Hartselle will travel to play a 5A, Region 8 game at Muscle Shoals on Friday, while Russellville will host J.O. Johnson.

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